Manaus: Switzerland suffered terribly as they secured a second round spot by beating Honduras 3-0 in the final World Cup Group E match in very sticky conditions, coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said.
The win set up a daunting last-16 game against Argentina on Tuesday but the conditions were extremely difficult with the temperature at kickoff 26 degrees Celsius and a humidity of 88 per cent. “Not only did we play a strong team but we played against the weather,” Hitzfeld said.
“The players showed the right attitude and we surpassed ourselves. Passion comes from suffering and we really suffered today,” he said.
Hitzfeld praised forward Xherdan Shaqiri, who played further upfield than usual and scored a hat-trick. Swiss media commentators had criticised his play after the opening win over Ecuador and the 2-5 loss to France. “I did not pay any attention to the critics. I wanted to show we could play soccer and that’s what we did... I played very well today and I’m happy about that and proud of the team,” Shaqiri said.
“It is definitely a big achievement to score three goals at a World Cup. The important thing is that we stuck together as a team. Now we’ll have to see what happens. We’re in the round of 16 and now anything is possible.”
Hitzfeld said he had been certain the team would stay in the World Cup, calling the achievement a special moment.
Switzerland: Diego Benaglio; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Johan Djourou, Fabian Schaer, Ricardo Rodriguez; Valon Behrami, Gokhan Inler, Xherdan Shaqiri (Blerim Dzemaili, 87), Granit Xhaka (Michael Lang, 77), Admir Mehmedi; Josip Drmic (Haris Seferovic, 73).
Honduras: Noel Valladares; Brayan Beckeles, Victor Bernardez, Maynor Figueroa, Juan Carlos Garcia; Oscar Boniek Garcia (Andy Najar, 77), Jorge Claros, Wilson Palacios, Roger Espinoza (Marvin Chavez, 46); Carlo Costly (Jerry Palacios, 40), Jerry Bengtson.
Man of the Match: Xherdan Shaqiri
Referee: Nestor Pitana (Argentina)